Leah Medina had grown up being told harmful stereotypes about men. She’s sorry she believed them.
To the Men of the World,
On this Day of Peace, I dedicate my efforts to you.
As a little girl, I was raised with poisonous ideas about men and they tainted how I thought of you. The old “they only want one thing” was popular, along with many other variations on the theme that you were somehow the problem, because everyone knew that men were violent, controlling, callous and self-centered. It’s hard not to take this at face value when you are a child, and when unfortunately some men do live up to this stereotype. But that’s just it — some men do, but most men don’t.
When you’re looking for something, you tend to find it, and unfortunately I was looking for the violence and cruelty I had been told about. I was trying to brace myself, but instead of protection I found alienation. The more hurt I expected, the more I found, and so I felt justified in being defensive and neurotic. I could see that I really needed to shift my focus.
For years I had been trudging through a swampland of misery and frustration, unable to find my way out no matter how many self-help books I read, no matter how much self-reflection I did. These books told me to write down all that was hurtful, all the things that I needed to forgive. But it didn’t help. And then I remembered an old saying, “You cannot find light by looking into the darkness.” I realized suddenly that I was focusing on all the negative experiences trying to make sense of them in order to find the answer, but in ignoring all the positive experiences I’d had, I was blind to the light that was there all along, waiting to guide me out of the mire.
So I sat down and wrote a list of all the good men I had encountered and all that was right with (instead of wrong with) what they did. I was struck with bitter sadness when I realized how much kindness and respect I had ignored.
But I finally see. Finally! And so I want to say I’m sorry, and to ask for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for not seeing it when you were showing me your true colors, your sweet vulnerability and your kindness. Forgive me for the times when you respected me and I relegated you to the side because that behavior didn’t fit in with the story I was fed about who men were. And thank you for those gifts. I didn’t feel them at the time, but they were not forgotten. I am moved and humbled and profoundly grateful to have been so very wrong. I see the full force of your beauty now, and I will do my best to show my appreciation.
I apologize for the hurt I may have caused, and I ask that if you feel that your heart needs forgiveness too, please free yourself of the burden of guilt. We all feel hurt and anger, but if we clean out these tenants who are taking up space in our hearts, there will be more room for love. I imagine that giving and receiving forgiveness goes hand in hand with giving and receiving love. Therefore, it is my wholehearted wish that this letter be a step toward a much needed healing between our sexes. Ho’oponopono is the Hawaiian prayer of reconciliation, and if you would, please allow me to dedicate this to you, the men of the world:
I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
An Awakened Woman
21 Sept 2013
Photo: maroonsurreal / flickr